Feeding my family healthy, nutrituous meals is a priority in my house but I don't enjoy spending every night in the kitchen after I get home from a busy day at work. To avoid the alternative (which usually means ordering pizza at our house) I have implemented a few tools to get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount time, basically before my family dies of starvation.
My first Working Mom Weeknight Meal (WMWM) tool is Supper Sundays. Every Sunday afternoon, I cook at least two meals (sometimes three) to give us at least two nights of meals that I can re-heat when I get home from work. Usually these are meals that require more preparation or assembly like Vegetable Lasagna, Magic Mini Meatloaves or Cheesy Penne Pasta Bake with Loaded Turkey Meatballs. All of these recipes are kid-friendly and in my house, they almost guarantee a clean plate.
This past weekend for my Supper Sunday meals, the cooler weather had me in the mood for chili and comfort foods. Once we got home from church, I pulled out all the ingredients for Green Chile Turkey Chili in the crockpot (recipe to come soon). As I was chopping the onion, I had a lightbulb moment. Instead of chopping onion four times for four different meals, I decided to chop enough onion for all of the meals that I had planned throughout the week. Since all of my meals called for onions, celery and green bell peppers, I got out all of my veggies and started a little assembly line of chopping.
Once all my veggies were chopped, I labeled ziplock bags with the name of the recipe for the weeknight meals. This week I was planning to make Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya and Chicken Broccoli Rice casserole. Both of these recipes were featured in the current issue of Cooking Light magazine and can also be found online.
Looking for additional ways to cut down on my kitchen time this week, I decided to bake my chicken and chop all of the meat in advance. Finally, I cut up some carrots to use as a side dish and sealed them into a ziplock bag.
By the end of the afternoon, I had a several ziplock full of prepped and labeled food for my weeknight meals. This gives me my second Working Mom Weeknight Meal (WMWM) tool, which I call the Prep Step. I put all of thes bags in the bottom drawer of the refridgerator and went to watch Sunday Night Football with Trey, happy to know that I had saved myself some time in the coming week. Then the Cowboys lost and I was sad again.
As a bonus, I am giving you a varation of my Loaded Turkey Meatballs that were a huge hit in our house this weekend. In fact, when I served my daugther the BBQ Loaded Turkey Meatballs that I made as part of Supper Sundays, she gave me the best compliment ever.
"Mom, I can't stop eating these meatballs. They are too good!" she told me. "Can I have some more?"
Um, YES! You can have all of the nutrition filled, good-for-you turkey meatballs your little Zoo Pals plate will hold!BBQ Loaded Turkey Meatballs
I love to make meatballs for my kids and load them with veggies. I use whatever veggies I have on hand in the fridge and chop them up until they are unrecognizable. Being sneaky is key when getting kids to try new veggies. After cooking the meatballs, I added a few spoonfuls of Brother's Gold barbecue sauce which I tell my kids is the "special yummy sauce" that they love. Then I sit back and watch them clean their plate!
Makes 5 servings, about 30 meatballs
Prep time: 20 minutes, Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients for Turkey Meatballs:
- 1/3 cup of finely chopped carrots
- 1/3 cup of finely chopped onion (yellow or white)
- 1/3 cup of finely chopped zuchinni
- 1.25 pounds of lean ground turkey
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
1. Finely chop all of your veggies. Coat a medium pan with non-stick spray and saute carrots, onions and zuchini over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until soft.
2. Remove pan from heat and allow the veggies to cool slightly. In a large bowl, mix ground turkey with sautéed veggies and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Roll turkey mixture into small (walnut sized) meatballs and place on a non-stick jelly roll pan (or coat pan with non-stick spray). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs start to brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Serve meatballs with Brother's Gold barbecue sauce on the side for dipping or drizzle a few spoonfuls of sauce over the meatballs and serve.